Tech Today with Ken May
Get that data under control!
As each New Year comes, technology marches on. Every year, bandwidth goes up, and so does our data usage! I think at this point, most people are aware that they have a limited amount of data included in their data plan before overage fees kick in. But, did you know that most home internet service providers have limits as well? They don’t typically enforce them, but they can be used to force people into purchasing a higher tier of service. Its’ difficult to find out what these limits are. A little research show that they can be as little as 50gb per month for economy plans, and upper limits looks like 500gb.
But what does that mean? Well, here’s some examples of how normal activities can use up that data very quickly.
- Netflix – Per their website, it can use up to 7gb per hour when streaming high definition movies.
- Pandora/Spotify – these services can use up to 320Kbps, or about 144MB per hour – not much compared to above.
- YouTube at 1080p is about 2gb per hour.
- Video game consoles – you can now download games over 50gb in size for Xbox and the PS4! Download just ten of those games, and you’ve hit your data cap for even the largest plan!
- Software updates – you be surprised at how quickly a gig here and a gig there all add up when updating your applications and products. A brand new computer can easily need 3-5gb of updates and downloads.
- Smartphone app downloads and updates, again, these can be multiple gigs each.
Well, that is a lot of data! Here’s some ways we can make sure we are not hit with usage warnings or fees.
- Your mobile data plan has much smaller limits, so be sure to use Wi-Fi whenever possible.
- Contact your Internet Service Provider for your home account, and try to get them to tell you what your limit is for your current plan. They may not tell you. They may lie and say there is no limit. Well, it’s good to try at least. This way there is a record of your inquiring. If you hit the hidden limit and they warn you, you can prove that you tried to find out what it was.
- Take advantage of public Wi-Fi. Do your app updates while in line at a coffee shop.
- Make sure your phone is set to only update over Wi-Fi, it may not be by default.
- Pull up the data usage history for your mobile account. It may be time to increase or decrease the data package you have.
It’s annoying that we even have to do this in the first place, but nobody really offer a true unlimited data plan these days. Even the ones that claim they are unlimited throttle you in the fine print when you reach a certain level of usage. With a little planning, all these troubles can be avoided.